The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 30, 2012

Releford, 4 sophomores trying to lead Alabama



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama will have mostly the same players but a significantly different look this season.

The Crimson Tide won't have four-year starter JaMychal Green patrolling the post or Tony Mitchell slashing through the lane for dunks.

Instead, Alabama will rely on point guard Trevor Releford, four sophomores who showed promise last season and several inexperienced big men.

"I think last year when we had someone like JaMychal down low, we focused a lot of our offense on him, which was understandable because he was such a dominant threat," guard Andrew Steele said. "I think when you look at our team this year, our biggest strength will be opening up the court a little bit more and I think we'll be a little more perimeter oriented. We still have confidence in our bigs, but our strength will be how we attack people off the dribble and space people."

The Tide was last in the Southeastern Conference in 3-point percentage and 3-pointers made last season. Alabama still played stout defense and managed to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years despite late-season suspensions of Green, Mitchell, Steele and Releford for at least one game.

Now, Alabama has only one signee, highly rated forward Devonta Pollard from Porterville, Miss., plus redshirt freshman point guard Retin Obasohan from Belgium.

Gone are Green and Mitchell, the team's top two scorers and rebounders each of the past two seasons. Mitchell left the team after missing the final 11 games on suspension, including the first-round NCAA loss to Creighton.

Backup guards Charles Hankerson and Ben Eblen opted to transfer after the season, leaving coach Anthony Grant with only 10 scholarship players.

"JaMychal Green's departure leaves a big void to fill on the interior," said Grant, whose team has won 46 games the past two seasons. "He did so many things for our team from a scoring standpoint, rebounding, defensively. Those will be some big shoes to fill. When you look on the interior we'll be extremely inexperienced."

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